September 29, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Gov. Brown vetoes bill aimed at improving bullet train oversight — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday rebuffed lawmakers’ efforts to subject California’s $64-billion bullet train project to increased financial scrutiny, vetoing a bill that had gained bipartisan support. LA Times articleAP article

California will lift statute of limitations on rape, let more felons vote – Rape victims will be able to seek criminal charges at any time in California, with Gov. Jerry Brown signing legislation Wednesday that had prompted alleged victims of embattled entertainer Bill Cosby to testify at the Capitol. Also earning Brown’s signature Wednesday was a contentious measure extending voting rights to people serving sentences for nonviolent felonies outside of prisons. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley politics

Fresno’s mayoral candidates Brand, Perea face off in downtown forum — The two candidates to become Fresno’s next mayor faced off Wednesday evening to discuss issues related to the city’s downtown core. About 100 people joined hopefuls Henry Perea and Lee Brand for the 90-minute forum at the Warnors Theatre – their second opportunity this week to argue about their respective positions. Fresno Bee article

After controversial year, Clovis school board to see rare competition in election — Clovis Unified school board elections are typically uneventful since incumbents usually are unopposed, but this year is different. Following several controversial board decisions – involving a strict dress code andtransgender bathroom policies – there have been calls for a change in leadership, leading to an influx of first-time candidates. The results of the November election could bring four new faces to the seven-member board, which oversees one of California’s highest-achieving districts. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Voters may expand access to legal marijuana in California, 8 other states – From California, with its counterculture heritage, to the fishing ports and mill towns of Maine, millions of Americans in nine states have a chance to vote Nov. 8 on expanding legal access to marijuana. Collectively, the ballot measures amount to the closest the U.S. has come to a national referendum on the drug. AP article

Lisa Green: Prop 57’s passage would release dangerous criminals – Kern County’s district attorney writes, “Prop. 57 has the potential to release 30,000 violent, dangerous, career criminals from state prison before they have served their full sentence. My best estimate is that approximately 1,500 of these individuals are eligible for release and will be paroled to Kern County if Prop. 57 passes.” Green op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Outside spending on November’s legislative races nears the $5 million mark — Following a trend that began in the months prior to June’s statewide primary, contributions to independent committees seeking races for the Legislature have now blossomed to more than $4.8 million. LA Times article

How would the Prop 56 tobacco tax really affect poor smokers? – The better question is how much of a burden a $2.87 per pack tax will place on low-income California smokers, and how effective it will be at incentivizing them to quit or at least cut down. Any tobacco tax must be weighed against the health and financial benefits it produces. Let’s see what the data and available research tells us. CALmatters article

Budding confusion: Split over whether Prop 64 allows on-demand marijuana delivery — With California voters considering Proposition 64 on the November ballot to allow recreational pot, police chiefs are warning that on-demand delivery will make it too easy for teenagers to get their hands on the drug. The concern is revealing confusion among advocates of legalizing recreational marijuana—who offer contradictory opinions about whether Prop. 64 would allow for on-demand delivery of recreational weed. CALmatters article 

Kamala Harris cashes in on state Democratic Party’s Senate endorsement while her rival gets nothing — Two Democrats will be on California’s U.S. Senate ballot this November, but only one has the state Democratic Party’s blessing — and money. The California Democratic Party has provided more than $560,000 to state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ campaign, spending close to $100,000 on mailers, window signs, campaign handout cards and door nob hangers prominently featuring Harris as the party’s recommended Senate candidate in November. LA Times article

Californian’s U.S. Senate candidates are on their own as national Democratic Party sits it out — It’s clear the national party favors one — Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris — but given she faces someone from her own party, the traditional machinery that comes along with a campaign like this one has gone by the wayside. LA Times article

Joel Fox: A Hollywood action movie – 2016 CA ballot propositions — Let me pitch you a movie based on that 224-page official state voter guide that’s coming your way. Like many big Hollywood action-thrillers it’s a tale that contains sex, drugs, guns, big money and death. The title: Bad Day in the Ballot Booth–the California Ballot Propositions.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

Felons in county jails to be allowed to vote in California elections – Despite widespread opposition from law enforcement, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a bill that will allow thousands of felons in county jails to vote in California elections as part of an effort to speed their transition back into society. LA Times article

Jerry Brown veto allows Californians to smoke at state parks and beaches – For the second time this week, Gov. Jerry Brown has rejected a bill that would have further restricted where Californians can smoke cigarettes or other tobacco products. On Wednesday, Brown vetoed Senate Bill 1333, by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, that would have prohibited smoking at state parks and beaches. Sacramento Bee article

Sex offenders will have to disclose email addresses, user names under new law – Sex offenders will soon have to report their email addresses, user names and other Internet identifiers to police under a bill Governor Jerry Brown signed Wednesday. It will apply to people convicted on or after Jan. 1, 2017 of Internet-related sex crimes. LA Times article

Californians may soon be asked: ‘A glass of Pinot Noir with that perm?’ – Californians who go in for a haircut or hairstyling may soon be offered a complimentary glass of beer or wine after Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a bill to allow the perk. LA Times article

Brown signs bill requiring breathalyzers in DUI offenders’ cars – Many Californians convicted of driving under the influence will have to temporarily install breathalyzers in their vehicles to get their driver’s licenses back after Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday expanding a pilot programSacramento Bee article

Brown vetoes ban on for-profit immigrant detention centers – Citing ongoing discussions at the federal level, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday rejected a proposed ban on the use of private immigrant detention centers in California. Senate Bill 1289, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would have prohibited local law enforcement agencies from contracting with for-profit companies to detain immigrants on behalf of federal authorities. Sacramento Bee article

Governor to approve state-run retirement for private workers – Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to sign legislation Thursday to automatically enroll nearly 7 million people in a retirement savings account, an attempt to address growing fears that many workers will be financially unprepared to retire. AP article

Stricter background checks and DUI rules coming for Uber and Lyft drivers through laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown – Uber, Lyft and other drivers for ride-hailing companies will face greater restrictions under new legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown. Drivers will be subject to stricter background checks and face tighter rules on driving under the influence through legislation authored by Assemblymen Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo). LA Times article

State Legislature’s approval rating hits 50 percent – The California Legislature’s approval rating among registered state voters has climbed to 50 percent, up from as low as 10 percent in September 2010. Sacramento Bee article

Tuition perk meant to keep citizen soldiers in uniform may be driving them out – A perk that lawmakers granted to citizen soldiers six years ago to keep them in uniform may actually speed their separations from the military, according to a review of the program released this week. Sacramento Bee article

Ami Bera, Scott Jones to debate for high-profile House seat — Democratic Rep. Ami Bera and Republican Scott Jones, campaigning for the highly competitive congressional district stretching across suburban Sacramento, are set to clash in a televised debate next month. Sacramento Bee article

Californians in Congress split on whether to let 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabians — Californians in Congress were deeply divided over Wednesday’s vote to override President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill to allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over its alleged backing of the terrorists who committed the attacks. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Steven Van Metre: What do we have to lose in this election? – The Bakersfield certified financial planner writes, “Few candidates are “inspirational.” But whether we are an aging boomer or young millennial, we have a lot to lose if we don’t vote, or if we don’t take seriously our vote.”  Van Metre op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

George Skelton: Hillary Clinton was the matador to Donald Trump’s raging bull in first debate –  Some 84 million TV viewers — the largest presidential debate audience ever — watched Donald Trump get all flustered and act like a raging bull. I creditHillary Clinton’s bright red suit. A very clever choice of garment. Bold and strategic. Sure beat the traditional navy blue with striped tie. Clinton in her solid red cape played Trump like a seasoned matador. Skelton column in LA Times

Marcos Breton: Yes, Donald Trump was insulting, but one idea he floated in debate was truly frightening — Donald Trump was criticized by pundits and the public for being erratic and unprepared for Monday’s presidential debate, but his ideas for making America’s streets safer were actually worse than any of his statements found wanting by media fact-checkers. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Employees at Trump’s California golf course say he wanted to fire women who weren’t pretty enough — The employees’ declarations in support of the lawsuit, which have not been reported in detail until now, show the extent to which they believed Trump, now the Republican presidential nominee, pressured subordinates at one of his businesses to create and enforce a culture of beauty, where female employees’ appearances were prized over their skills. A Trump Organization attorney, in a statement to The Times, called the allegations “meritless.” LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Fight over Yosemite trademarks gets trickier — A legal battle over trademarked names at Yosemite National Park is now trickier than ever. In the latest twist, lawyers are fighting over whether the park’s new concession company should be formally added to the case. The Justice Department, representing the National Park Service, says yes. Delaware North, the former concession company, says no in the latest legal filing. McClatchy Newspapers article

After 46 years on the Clovis council, Harry Armstrong is retiring — Harry Armstrong, who left his mark on virtually every facet of Clovis and also countywide after nearly a half-century of service on the City Council, announced his resignation Wednesday.  Fresno Bee article

Downtown Merced seeing more investments – Two currently empty buildings that bookend the 600 block of Main Street in Merced are expected to soon be brought back to life. The El Capitan Hotel and Mainzer Theater are set for multimillion-dollar upgrades from the same developer in coming months, according to city staff. Leaders are calling it a sign that Merced is attracting attention for its growth potential. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Kevin Valine: Who knew accepting ‘free’ money could be so complicated? – Those who watched Tuesday’s City Council meeting saw something rare – a majority of the council not accepting a decision from top city staff. The issue is over a $1.08 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant awarded to the Fire Department to pay for training and equipping 12 firefighters as paramedics. The grant does not take effect unless the council accepts it. Modesto Bee article

Homegrown entrepreneurs – Cindi Fargo has two goals for a new program that will be hosted by the Downtown Stockton Alliance starting next month. The director of the DSA wants to provide the neighborhood do-it-yourselfer or talented cook or aspiring jewelry designer with the needed business knowledge to transform a skill or a hobby into a moneymaking enterprise and a career. Stockton Record article

Most Valley banks, credit unions earn top financial rating – All but two community banks with headquarters in Fresno and Tulare counties, as well as most Valley-based credit unions, earned five-star ratings from a Florida research company based on their financial performance in the second quarter of 2016. Fresno Bee article

California treasurer sanctions Wells Fargo over fake-accounts scandal — California’s state treasurer announced Wednesday that he has temporarily severed some business relationships with Wells Fargo & Co. over revelations that the bank created millions of accounts without customers’ permission. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Report: Valley foreclosure rates decreased in July — The latest report from CoreLogic put the rate of Fresno area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans at 0.49 percent for July, a decrease of 0.16 percentage points compared with July 2015. The Business Journal article

Tickets to Bakersfield business conference nearly gone – The tents are going up at Cal State Bakersfield and the tickets are just about gone, no surprise considering the Bakersfield Business Conference is a once-in-six-years extravaganza put together by George Martin, the city’s impresario of impresarios. Bakersfield Californian article

Elk Grove council approves $132 million casino deal after ardent debate – Elk Grove City Council members voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve a casino development agreement with the Wilton Rancheria, providing a major boost to the local tribe’s effort to build a gambling destination along Highway 99. Sacramento Bee article

LA city leaders question financial risk of hosting 2024 Olympic Games – The deadline is looming to submit another round of bid materials to theInternational Olympic Committee, but many Los Angeles city leaders continue to have questions about what legal and financial protections will be in place should L.A. be awarded the 2024 Summer Games. LA Times article

U.S. soda-tax battle bubbles up in San Francisco Bay Area – The national fight over sugary soda is bubbling up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where voters in November will consider a tax on the drinks that many health experts say contribute to diabetes, obesity and tooth decay. AP article

Four stiff challenges Elon Musk will have to overcome to turn his Mars dream into reality — SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk has finally laid out his plans to eventually transport up to a million people to colonize Mars. But there are more than a few hurdles he’ll have to clear first. LA Times article

Some tech companies hiring chief diversity officers to tackle diversity problem — Twitter has one. So does Pinterest. And this week, Salesforce got one, too: a chief equality officer. KQED report


Will California see a wet winter? Forecasters call it a ‘crapshoot’ – Last year at this time, weather forecasters had a pretty good idea of what was in store as California headed into the rainy season. The Pacific Ocean surface was warming, and they were predicting one of the strongest El Niño weather patterns in recorded history. El Niño ended up making an appearance, but it wasn’t the series of gully washers for which some had hoped. This year, the forecast is even less certain. Sacramento Bee article

Meeting on river flows gets tense at times – Two state officials said Wednesday they are open to alternatives to a proposed boost in river flows, but their Modesto audience remained skeptical. The farmer-heavy crowd said it has heard such promises before regarding the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers, only to see the state ignore their concerns. Modesto Bee articleModesto Bee editorial

Years after Cesar Chavez, leaders consider how to keep farmworker movement relevant – A journalist, playwright, author and professor, each with deep knowledge of the United Farm Workers movement, spun its successes and failures into lessons for the future Wednesday night in Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Jeff Jardine: New law restricting derriere dairy air sort of stinks to cattle industry – Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law Senate Bill 1383 to address so-called short-lived climate pollutants – methane gas emissions – generated by concentrations of cattle in places like dairies and feedlots, along with that generated by organic wastes and landfills. It dovetails with Assembly Bill 32, which mandated a return to 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020, and SB 32, which extended AB 32 to 2030. For many dairy or feedlot owners, this will mean complying. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Backers go to D.C. to push Temperance Flat – Members of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority that include Avenal Mayor Pro Tem Alvaro Preciado, Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley and Fresno Supervisor Buddy Mendes will travel to Washington October 4 and 5 to push for funding for Temperance Flat reservoir. Hanford Sentinel article

Waterwise: Improvement projects completed in north Visalia — Residents in the Fairview Elementary School neighborhood will see an increase in water services thanks to two recently-completed projects. Fire protection will also be improved in the neighborhood. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Five years later, some see criminal justice realignment as success – While law enforcement groups came on board, many remained wary of realignment — and Republican lawmakers and other law-and-order politicians warned that the massive policy change could lead to “blood in the streets.” Half a decade later, most public officials say — and research shows — that those fears have not come to pass. KQED report

Police investigating threatening social media posts featuring clowns — Two years after eerie photos of the so-called “Wasco Clown” appeared, red-nosed, brightly-wigged characters have again attracted the attention of Kern County law enforcement.  About 7 p.m. Tuesday, residents began reporting threatening social media posts from people displaying clown masks in their profiles, police said. The posts included possible threats to commit acts of violence at local schools. Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento sheriff revokes dozens of concealed carry permits following arrests, gun crimes — As of February of this year, Jones had revoked more than 150 permits for a variety of reasons, including arrests and other contact with law enforcement that didn’t lead to arrest, such as making threats or misusing a weapon. That’s more than any other law enforcement agency in California, according to data from the state Department of Justice. Sacramento Bee article

Latest deadly shooting fuels debate about how police deal with people with mental illness — The fatal shooting by El Cajon police of a black man described as being mentally ill is fueling the debate over how law enforcement responds in such cases and can avoid deadly confrontations. LA Times article

When ‘yelling commands’ is the wrong police response — More officers are being taught to de-escalate tensions, particularly when facing people with diminished mental capacity, but experts say there is a long way to go. New York Times article

Fresno motorcycle officer hurt in downtown crash — A veteran Fresno police officer was seriously hurt Wednesday afternoon when his motorcycle hit a car that suddenly turned into his path near Tulare Street and Highway 41 in downtown Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Two Visalia police department officers injured in collision — Two Visalia police officers are “lucky to be alive” after a collision in southwest Visalia Wednesday morning. Three motorcycle officers were heading to a multi-vehicle crash just before 8 a.m. when two of the officers clipped each other’s motorcycles and sent each other into the intersection of Caldwell Avenue and Akers Street. One officer went into the center median, while the other went north toward the nearby Methodist church. Visalia Times-Delta article


Modesto Junior College 4-year respiratory degree picking first cohort — The bachelor of science in respiratory care, Modesto Junior College’s first four-year degree and one of only two such programs in the state, will begin with a cohort of 40 students to be notified in the spring. Classes will begin in fall 2017. Modesto Bee article

Dos Palos teachers close to strike – Teachers of the Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School District may strike if a contract settlement with the school district is not reached after Oct. 11. Los Banos Enterprise article

As election nears, Fresno Unified trustees battle over school bond needs – With the vote on Measure X about a month away, some Fresno Unified school board members are still not sure the community has had an adequate opportunity to weigh in on how potential bond dollars should be used. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield City School District teachers criticize administrative leave policy — Bakersfield City School District teachers are calling on administrators to review their faculty investigation policies, alleging the district has been violating due process rules when placing staff members on administrative leave. Bakersfield Californian article

The Grade: Panama-Buena Vista names school for revered educator — Dolores Whitley, the longtime Panama-Buena Vista Union School District educator who became a board member after retiring, will have the district’s newest school named after her, her colleagues decided unanimously Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article (scroll to item)

Delhi students get early start on healthcare careers — When Juan Daniel Ramirez Reyes was a child in Modesto, he said he witnessed violence and deaths in the community. It instilled in him a strong urge to help people, he said. Now a junior at Delhi High School, Ramirez Reyes said those experiences are what drove him to pursue a medical career and apply for the medical program at his school. Merced Sun-Star article

UC is joining Boys & Girls Clubs to boost university enrollment – Students who attend three Boys & Girls Clubs in California will be getting extra help and encouragement on a path to University of California enrollment through a new partnership announced Wednesday. Under the program, UC will provide academic counseling, campus visits, financial aid advice and other support to the mainly low-income and minority young people who attend the clubs. A first phase will link three campuses and three local Boys & Girls Clubs that serve a total of 6,000 children and teens: UCLA with the club in Pasadena and UC Merced and UC San Francisco with clubs in their respective cities. UC and club officials said they hope to expand the efforts statewide after the first year. EdSource article

LA targets full-time community college students for free tuition — L.A. College Promise, first proposed during Garcetti’s State of the City address last spring, applies only to graduates of L.A. Unified high schools. And only full-time students who maintain a 2.0 grade point average can receive the aid. The hope is to persuade students to quit their day jobs and focus on college. LA Times article

Animated videos help teachers build sense of empathy in students — A Silicon Valley educational technology company and researchers from Harvard have teamed up to launch a new series of animated videos next month about the importance of empathy, intended for teachers to use in building students’ social and emotional skills. EdSource article

Health/Human Services

Could a medical school be in Fresno’s future? – The San Joaquin Valley needs to train more doctors, but it has to look elsewhere than UC Merced for a medical school, which could be years from opening, Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula said Wednesday at a meeting in Fresno to discuss health-care needs. Fresno could be the location for a private medical school, he said. Fresno Bee article

Report: Visalia unhealthiest California city — The Visalia-Porterville metropolitan area was ranked as the least healthy city in the state, according to a report issued by an East Coast-based financial news and opinion company. Visalia Times-Delta article

Suit claims secret Tulare Regional Medical Center vote on legal fees — A group of well-known Tulare residents accused the board of directors of the Tulare Regional Medical Center Wednesday of secretly voting to pay the legal costs of a private lawsuit against a Tulare doctor. Visalia Times-Delta article

Land Use/Housing

Changes to cabaret ordinance target hookah lounges — Owners of two hookah lounges squared off with opponents of the late-night, communal smoking clubs at City Hall on Wednesday over changes to the city’s cabaret ordinance that could limit their hours.  Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Hanford supervisors pass first reading of marijuana ordinance — Kings County supervisors took the first step toward regulating recreational marijuana if it becomes legal in November. The supervisors passed the ordinance, which would apply to unincorporated areas of Kings County, with a 5-0 vote at their Tuesday meeting. They are to have a second vote on the ordinance at their meeting next week.  The board also voted 5-0 on a resolution against Proposition 64. The board will also have a second vote on the resolution next week. Hanford Sentinel article

Farmer and politician Jim Simonian remembered for his love of Fowler – Jim Simonian of Fowler was a high-energy, fun-loving farmer and politician who devoted his life to his family, business and community. Mr. Simonian died Monday, Sept. 26, after a bout with cancer. He was 72. Fresno Bee article

Former California Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas dies at 89 — Former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas, who took over at a critical moment after three justices were ousted by voters, died Wednesday. He was 89. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Proposition 54 is the right call for transparency at the Capitol.

Merced Sun-Star – If Hillary Clinton loses the election in November, the Commission on Presidential Debates should disband. We’ll have no more need for debates. They will have proved meaningless.

Modesto Bee – If Hillary Clinton loses the election in November, the Commission on Presidential Debates should disband. We’ll have no more need for debates. They will have proved meaningless; Valley leaders take issue with state water board’s explanation.

Sacramento Bee – Stop crying wolf and calling the election “rigged.”